There are some questions with a quick answer and some that deserve more detail. How many solar panels does a 2,000 square foot home need? What’s the right number of solar panels for my home? These are the latter sort of question.
Online calculators are programmed to answer this question for you based on information you input. And just like those tools, we can’t tell how many solar panels a home of a certain size needs without looking into how the occupants use electricity.
As good as those online tools are, they can be a little off (or a lot off) depending on whether your future energy plans differ from your energy billing history. Here are some factors to think about, which your (human) solar consultant will go over with you during a phone or in-person conversation about your solar needs
Your grid-connected solar installation is going to produce power for you, so you can use less utility power. Throughout the geographic areas we serve, electric utilities have rules to make sure that customers don’t construct solar installations that are over-sized. At the same time, you are probably hoping to get as much solar power as possible to use in your home.
So the object is, figure out how much electricity you consume throughout the year and then determine how many solar panels it would take to get as close as possible. Luckily, there’s no need to do a bunch of complicated tallying of appliances and their wattage. Just by pulling up your electric bills from the last 12 monthly billing periods you can see the total kilowatt hours of energy consumed over that time.
Of course, if you’re planning to use our roof as the location for your solar panels system, you may be limited by the available space. It might turn out that your monthly energy use lines up nicely with the amount of room up on your roof, then again your roof space may be constrained. Under either of those scenarios, it’s an easy call how much solar is right for you: as much as fits! You’ll enjoy lower bills, and the utility will provide the rest of your energy, just as before. You can even consider community solar if your roof can't handle enough panels.
If you have ample roof space to fill with panels, consider if your solar project budget would allow you to aim for 100% offset of your electric bills. Keep in mind that if in the future you decide to switch a gas heat system to electric or add an electric vehicle charger, that extra solar energy would come in handy. Venting and other constraints might restrict the amount of solar on your roof, but we assess flat and pitched roofs to fit the maximum number of panels you want. Your electric utility may even make an exception to the rule against over-sizing your solar energy system, if you have definite plans to get an electric car, add a hot tub or pool pump, or build an extension on your home.
Talk to a Pro
Technology is great, and we’re glad that online calculators help empower solar customers and increase confidence and competence around individuals’ needs. Still, there’s no substitute for a one on one conversation between you and an experienced solar pro, who can respond to your particular concerns and circumstances to customize a solar proposal to your preferences. We constantly help to spread the word about solar and highlight success stories. Check out our home solar project guide and when you'd like a complimentary quote, we're ready to work with you!